The most significant find of First Temple history was privately funded by a couple in New York with an interest in Biblical Archeology.
BETHPAGE, TN (Catholic Online) - In the area known as Ophel, between the City of David and the southern wall of the Temple Mount of Israel, archaeologists have uncovered parts of an ancient complex believed to correspond and date to the time of King Solomon´s Temple.
Located just outside the present-day walls of Jerusalem's Old City, next to the holy site known to Jews as the Temple Mount and to Muslims as the Noble Sanctuary, a 231-foot long, 20 foot-high section of ancient stone wall, believed to be the city wall, was discovered.
Along with these fortifications were found a small house beside a gateway leading to what was once the royal courtyard, a building that served city officials, and a tower strategically positioned opposite the Mount of Olives and overlooking the Kidron river.
Volunteer college students from Oklahoma, hired workers, and archaeology students from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem all participated in the dig under university professor Dr. Eilat Mazar. The excavations were privately funded by a couple in New York with an interest in Biblical Archeology, and took place over a three-month period.
Dr. Mazar indicated how the findings correlate to other archeological discoveries from the time of the First Temple. "The city wall that has been uncovered testifies to a ruling presence. Its strength and form of construction indicate a high level of engineering," she said.
The Scriptures tell us that the Temple and palace King Solomon built were surrounded with the walls of the city of Jerusalem (1 Kings 3:1). Due to their notable construction skills, historians believe the Phoenicians helped the Israelites build the structures. The finds help illustrate that 10th century Jerusalem was capable and peaceful enough to conduct such large building projects, as the Scriptures claim.
Between the large tower at the city gate and the royal building, the archaeologists uncovered a section of the corner tower that is 26 feet long and 20 feet high. The tower was built of carved stones said to be of "unusual beauty."
Pottery shards were discovered within the rubble filling the ground floor of the royal building near the gatehouse, and the largest jars ever found in Jerusalem, almost 4 feet in height, were found on the same floor in rooms that are thought to have served as storage areas.
The jars were discovered to have survived a major fire, and partial inscriptions on the jars and pottery shards, "for the king" on an ancient Hebrew seal on the jar handles, all indicate that they were possessions used by, and belonging to, high-level government officials within the monarchy.
Dating done on the discoveries supports researchers´ belief that the complex dates to the 10th century B.C. "This is the first time that a structure from that time has been found that may correlate with written descriptions of Solomon's building in Jerusalem," Dr. Mazar said.
"A comparison of this latest finding with city walls and gates from the period of the First Temple, as well as pottery found at the site, enable us to postulate with a great degree of assurance that the wall that has been revealed is that which was built by King Solomon in Jerusalem in the latter part of the tenth century B.C."
The discovery of this monumental site, the most significant find of First Temple history, is important because the existence of the Hebrew monarchy spoken of in the Scriptures, and its corresponding political strength, is disputed among Holy Land archeologists. It significantly supports the growing body of archeological evidence concerning the Davidic Kingdom spoken of in the Old Testament, a kingdom from whence came the Christ.
Sonja Corbitt is a Catholic Scripture teacher, study author and speaker. She is a contributing writer for Catholic Online. Visit her at http://www.pursuingthesummit.com/ and http://www.pursuingthesummit.com/
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